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A Desperate Hope


What a week! Marathon bombings, fertilizer plant explosions, an entire city shut down for a massive man hunt. Honestly, it’s enough to make any one want to build an underground bunker and hide away forever. I know there are a gazillion people sharing their thoughts on these events, and you may be sick of hearing about it, but I’d like to share my humble thoughts just the same.

I’m sure most of you can relate to the fact that my response to massive tragic events changes depending on what stage of life I’m in. The first big tragic event I remember reacting to was Columbine. That brought a lot of confusion because, up until that point, I honestly didn’t know that humans could be that cruel. Then 9/11 came with a lot of fear. More recently, the movie theater shooting in Colorado left me thinking “seriously, WTF?” and all I could do was cry as I read stories about the Newton Elementary school shootings.

The Boston Marathon bombings are coming at a very unique time in my life. As a first time mom, I viewed this horrific event with something I’ve never really felt before: desperate hope. I’m not talking about the phony optimism that is often misunderstood as hope. Memes with inspirational quotes, happy song lyrics, and messages posted by well meaning but out of touch people telling us all just to stay strong and stick together aren’t real signs of hope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these things are bad, in fact I can’t get enough of the Mr. Roger’s quote about finding the helpers, but these things are quick fixes. They are responses born of a generation that refuses to think about anything for longer than 30 seconds. We hear about the tragedy, we respond, we move on.

The desperate hope I’m talking about is the hope you cling to when your only other choice is to curl up and die. It’s a hope in something greater than yourself, greater than your circumstances. It’s the hope you find only in your most hopeless moments. The violence and evil that exists globally is absolutely soul crushing. It’s enough to make even the strongest people wonder if it’s really worth it to go on.

For me, the source of that hope is Jesus Christ and my reason to cling to such hope is my son. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He showed the world once and for all that he was Lord over sin and death. Some people have a hard time with this because they think that if Jesus truly conquered sin and death, bad things wouldn’t keep happening. But they’re skipping ahead in the story. Eventually, that will be the case when Jesus returns and banishes sin and death once and for all. But at this point in the story, humans, freewill, sin and death still exist. I honestly don’t know why, but there is some reason that God is keeping us all alive on this retched planet. The good news is that He doesn’t expect us to deal with life’s crap storms on our own. We have the Bible, the Holy Spirit and our fellow Christians to strengthen our steps and get us through another day. Living on this earth is hard, but my desperate hope comes from the fact that I know, with every ounce of my being, that when the story ends the goodness of God will prevail. Evil may win some of the battles, but our good God will win the war.

I said earlier that my son has inspired me to grab onto this desperate hope. All that theology I just spewed out in the previous paragraph? I’ve known that since I was 10. So why am I know just starting to act on it and truly believe it? Because now there is proof that life will exist after me. Of course, this is also something I’ve known for quite a while, but it has so much more impact now. I know that my thoughts and my actions will directly affect another tiny human being. I know that the world I create now is going to affect someone I love after I’m dead. I don’t have the privilege of simply living and dying. I have a legacy and I will build a better world for him, even if that means clawing my way through the sludge and slime that is humanity.

I’m not a great person. I doubt I’ll make any real significant changes in this life. But even if all I manage to do is give my son hope, crazy, stupid, irrational hope in a divine being he can’t see, then I’ve at least given him the tool to carry on and to impact this world in whatever way God has planned.

Friends, tomorrow is Monday. We have to get out of bed, go to work, take the kids to school, avoid crazy freeway drivers and, if we’re lucky, do it all again on Tuesday. If you can some how find the strength within yourself to keep doing that, more power to you. But if you’re like me and you’re all out of mirror pep talks and the inspirational quotes on Facebook are simply making you more cynical, cling to the desperate hope.


Three Boxes of Nerds is One Box Too Many


The following conversation happened at about 2:30 am a few mornings ago, when Husband came home from his closing shift. I found it humorous and thought it would bring some laughter to your Monday.

Me: Did you bring home food?

Husband (hesitantly, because he knows what that question means): Yes

Me: Can I have some fries?

Husband: I didn’t get fries.

Me: What? Who gets fast food without fries?

Husband: Well I went to Del Taco and I never get their fries.

Me: Oh (and I look at him with my saddest puppy dog eyes)

Husband (now slightly annoyed): Do you want one of my tacos?

Me: YES!

Husband (as he hands me the taco): Why are your fingers so red?

Me: Because I ate three boxes of nerds before bed.

Husband: What?

Me: Hey, they were apple watermelon flavored, the perfect combination of sweet and sour. I couldn’t help myself! Although, I’ll admit, the third one was definitely a mistake. I didn’t feel so hot after that.

Husband: Do you still want the taco?

Me: Duh! Hand it over. With some hot sauce too.

Husband later complained that he had a taco sized hole in his stomach. I just blamed it on the baby, rolled over and went to sleep. That poor man, pregnancy has not been nice to him.

The Successes and Failures of my 30 for 30 Plan


So I had every intention of updating all of you on my 30 for 30 progress every day…or at least once a week. And yet, here we are on October 25 and I haven’t given a single update. Shame on me. I’ll give you guys a brief recap, a funny story and then send you on your way.

In case you don’t remember, my “30 for 30” plan involved two goals. First, to exercise for 30 minutes every day. The second goal was to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies 6 days a week, hence giving me 30 servings. I have not been very good at keep up with the veggies and fruit. I’ve definitely eaten more than normal, but rarely have I gotten to 5 servings a day. I can usually get in three servings pretty easy. I make smoothies in the morning with two servings of fruit and sometimes vegetable juice. Then I eat a vegetable with my lunch. But by the time dinner rolls around, I’m super tired and don’t give a rat’s butt about being healthy. So unless 1 of the 5 other adults I live with has made dinner with some vegetables in it, I’ll usually just eat a pb&j, gulp a glass of chocolate milk and vow to try harder the next day. But it’s not all bad news on the veggie front. I told my master chef husband about my plans and he has made an effort to find more recipes with veggies in them, so that we aren’t just eating plain raw veggies every night (i know that’s healthiest but its so boring!). So we are definitely changing our eating habits, its just a slow process.

The exercising part of the plan has been much more successful. In the past 25 days I’ve only missed 5 days of exercising. Two of those were because I was super tired and genuinely believe that my body needed a rest. One of those days I missed exercising because I didn’t plan my day right, and the last two days were missed because of pure laziness. Now, this may not seem like a success to any of you, but to me it’s huge. I’m notorious for coming up with great ideas, starting to act on them, and then not following through. So the fact that I got back on track even after missing a few workouts is huge for me. I think that learning the discipline of working out has been more beneficial to me than the actual workouts. The workouts themselves have not been that hard (except for my boot camp classes that I started this week. But more on that in a minute) but making time to work out everyday has been. I’m really hoping that this newfound discipline carries over into other areas of my life, such as daily devotions and blogging. I may have to come up with another 30 for 30 plan for those…

And now for the funny story I promised you. So, I signed up for boot camp classes for the same reason everybody signs up for anything they’ve never had a strong desire to do…I found a Groupon. I figured it would be a good and fairly cheap way to step up the intensity of my workouts. “Step Up” is an understatement.

Day one was super intense. It was a lot of cardio and some weight training. We worked every part of the body so when it was done, I was left with a dull ache over my whole body. But, it really wasn’t that bad so when they told me to come back the next day, I listened. Ho-ly crap. Day two we focused on thighs and butt. I don’t think I’ve ever done so many lunges and squats in my life. The last round of lunges the instructor had to hold my hand because it was physically impossible for me to continue on my own. After fifteen minutes of that torture, the instructor told us to sprint across the room. His exact words were “go as hard as you can the first four steps, then slow it down the rest of the way.”

Here’s the thing about this boot camp class. I paid good money for it. Even thought it was a Groupon and way cheaper than normal price, it was still $50. That’s a pair of boots I could have gotten for my New York trip. So because I spent my hard earned money on exercise, you can bet your booty I was going to work out as hard as I could, as often as I could, and get the most out of that month. So when Instructor Steve told me to go as hard as I could the first four steps, that’s what I did. Only I didn’t make it four steps. I only made it two. And then my legs completely gave out and I fell. Crumpled to the floor. The weight of my huge ass was just too much for my jello legs. Instructor Steve said that was a great display of motivation. I said that I’d been scammed and boots would have been a better option.

After all that, I still had 15 minutes of class left with running and crunches and leg lifts. I could barely walk or sit for two days. But I went back this morning, so ya me! I can guarantee there will be more boot camp stories to share. Until then, have a wonderful night my friends!

26 Thoughts on the Eve of my 26th Birthday


Why, thank you!

I have 59 minutes to write this post. If I don’t, then I have to change the title. Here it goes.

  1. My mom is the best. We have a tradition that on every birthday, my mom makes the birthday person’s favorite meal from scratch. This was much easier when she was a stay at home mom, but has proven much more challenging in the years since she has gone back to work. Nevertheless, she does it cheerfully and for the past 2.5 hours has been slaving away in the kitchen making me delicious enchiladas.
  2. Why is neither teleportation nor vehicular flight a thing right now? It’s 2012 and Google knows exactly what ads to show me based on emails I write, my phone talks to me, and we have people living in space. Why the heck do I still have to sit in traffic every day?
  3. Green is my favorite color. The more neon the better.
  4. I’m horribly disappointed in the Angels performance this year. While I still wear my jersey with pride, and hold out a little bit of hope that they’ll turn things around in the last month of the season, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that despite the atrocious amount of money we paid for Puljos, this just isn’t our year.
  5. If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be pizza, salad and ice cream.
  6. Target and Old Navy have magical powers that suck my money.
  7. I really really want Justin Timberlake to put out a new album.
  8. I miss spring break. I’m okay with the adult world not getting an entire summer off, but I really wish we still got to celebrate spring break.
  9. I really really really want to meet Mark Trumbo and Tom Hanks before I die, or they die. If anyone can make this happen for me you will be my favorite forever.
  10. It’s ridiculous that I still have acne at the age of 26. I used to judge people who got cosmetic surgery, but every day I think more and more seriously about lazering these little buggers off.
  11. Ignorance truly is bliss.
  12. After a year and 8 months, I’m STILL not done reading through the Old Testament. On one hand this is discouraging, on the other hand I’m impressed that I haven’t completely given up yet. I’m still plugging away, currently through the book of Isaiah. God has gotten me this far, I’m sure He’ll see me through till the end.
  13. I want to one day visit all the Hawaiian Islands. So far I’ve been to two.
  14. Today I asked my husband if 18 year old Joe every imagined he would have such a hott wife in the future. To which Joe replied “18-year-old Joe was doing just fine for himself.” Oh that guy. But it got me thinking, and 16 year old Brianna did not imagine she would have as awesome, selfless, funny and talented a husband as she does now. I’m glad God had bigger plans than I did.
  15. I really like being a girl. I feel people don’t take pride in their gender enough. Being a girl is awesome. Sure, the periods suck, and I’ve heard child bearing is a bitch, and the media puts an outlandish number of unrealistic expectations on us,¬† but being a woman also got a lot of perks. We can work in the home, out of the home, or both. We get to choose our fashion sense. We get to be partners with our husbands and not merely servants. We can vote. We are able to get a good education. While we shouldn’t give up on fighting for equality, we should be teaching our daughters, sisters, and nieces to be proud of their femininity.
  16. The beach is by far the most relaxing place. It doesn’t matter how stressed I am, a walk on the sand, a dip in the waves or a nap under a palm tree will take it all away.
  17. I miss my Disneyland pass ūüė¶
  18. If I could switch professions to be anything I wanted, without going to more school, I would be a marine biologists. Or an astronaut who inherits billions of dollars from an oil tycoon uncle and then single handedly revives the space program. Or an actress. Or maybe I should just finally buckle down and be a writer.
  19. Dancing is my favorite.
  20. Is 26 considered late twenties?
  21. I’m reading “Honeymoon with my Brother” and in it the author makes a statement somewhere along the lines of “every country does family better than America.” Its so true. This next year I’m going to make a conscious effort to spend more time with all my family, close and extended, because they are the ones that have always been there for me no matter what.
  22. I have an embarrassing love for pop music.
  23. This year I discovered that the fitness gurus were right: exercise really does make you feel better. Doing simple things like walking the dog, going for a swim or riding my bike reduce my stress level, give me more energy and even help reduce my stomach aches. I’ve learned that when I exercise to be healthy, its a lot more enjoyable and productive then when I exercise to loose weight.
  24. Although I don’t do it as much as I would like to, I love blogging and I think I’ll keep it up until I’m at least 80. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to teleport.
  25. I feel like all the things I know about God, are things I’m finally experiencing. And things that I know make a strong Christian are things I’m finally putting into practice.
  26. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this life of mine. Its nothing like I expected it to be, some parts are worse and some parts are better. But I feel I’m moving in the right direction.

Photo taken from FreeDigitalPhotos.net


3 Years and 3 Pieces of Advice


We celebrated our wedding anniversary at The Loft at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. Best eating out experience EVER

In June, the Hubs and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. Seriously, three years has gone by so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was laughing at my bridesmaids as I made them try on ugly dresses, and husband and I were arguing about the wedding color scheme (both true stories).

On our anniversary, I asked Husband what has surprised him most about marriage. He said he was most surprised by how easy it was. I couldn’t agree more. You see, when most people get married all they see is rainbows and butterflies. They imagine a life of perfect bliss and then are sad and disappointed when they realize that marriage isn’t a fairy tale, it’s real life. Husband and I were the opposite. We expected the worst. Okay okay, not the worst. We wouldn’t have married each other if we had expected the whole thing to be a giant poo storm. However, we were very realistic about the whole thing. We have two couples to thank for that- my parents and Joe’s second oldest brother and his wife. Both those couples have awesome marriages that started out rocky. And both were very honest with us about those struggles and how they overcame them. We took those lessons very seriously and as soon as we said “I do,” we braced ourselves.

But a funny thing happened. In listening to those couples, and our premarital counselors, and other strong couples, I guess we actually learned some things. Without even realizing it, we put their advice into practice. The way that they solved their problems was the way that we avoided many of our own. And sure, there have been some not-so fun moments and some difficult situations we’ve had to overcome, but overall, we are both extremely happy with the way these first three years have panned out. I think we have built a solid foundation so that if, in the upcoming years, some truly crappy things do happen to us, we’ll be ready to battle them together.

After only three years, I am by no means a marriage expert. However, I’ll end this post with three pieces of advice that have helped Husband and I over the years. As wedding season continues and more people head into wedded bliss, I hope you’re able to make your first few years of marriage a little easier by following this advice.

  1. Always keep Christ at the center of your marriage. His relationship with the Church is the perfect example of what a perfect marriage should look like. Read the Gospels, see how Jesus served the people on earth and the way he talks about the church, and apply those principals to your marriage.
  2. No marriage is an island. I can’t tell you how many times I was worried about something in our relationship only to realize that one of my girlfriends had experienced the exact same thing in the past and had great advice on how to overcome that particular struggle. It’s so important to stay in fellowship with other Christian couples who are just as committed to their marriages as you are to yours, so that you can all encourage each other, pray for one another, and give advice.
  3. Learn how to communicate with your spouse. There are a ton of books on this, some you may find helpful and some you may not. But the reality is there is no one magic formula for perfect communication. It’s a lot of trial and error and it takes a lot of patience. Husband and I still don’t communicate even close to perfectly, but we are much better than we were 3 years ago. Learning to communicate effectively has helped minimize fights, misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

YOUR TURN! What marriage advice do you have for all the 2012 newlyweds?

8 Year Old Brianna is Proud of Your Decision to Support or Boycott Chick-Fil A.


When I was 8 years old I found out that Disneyland supported something I didn’t agree with. I, in the holier than thou attitude that often accompanies Christian kids…scratch that…its an attitude that often accompanies all kids, was horrified. My best friend and I promptly wrote Disney a letter telling them how disappointed we were and vowing to never participate in anything Disney related ever again.

The letter never got sent, probably because we got distracted by an Ace of Base song.

Also, our ban on all things Disney lasted maybe a day. Maybe. After that we were back to playing with our Lion King figurines and singing “Part of Your World” at the top of our lungs. As an adult, I still love Disney and no longer care about their stance on that issue I didn’t agree with. I’m honestly more offended by the fact that Disney has raised their prices to such high amounts I can no longer afford a pass. Plus, I now realize that boycotting every company that had different beliefs than I did would force me to live an Amish lifestyle. This is America, a country based on the freedom of expression and the freedom to have different beliefs. You hear some else’s’ belief, agree or disagree, maybe debate about it for a while, then shake hands and move on. At least, that’s how it should work.

Fast forward to present day and this whole Chick-Fil-A hates gays scandal. Now, I’m going to admit to you right now that I haven’t read much on the topic, but from what I gather the basic gist is that the President of Chick Fil A spoke out against gay marriage. Some people are pissed and boycotting it. Others are supporting it. Others are banning Chick Fil A from their cities. Sound about right?

Here’s the thing. I don’t care who supports, boycotts, agrees or disagrees with Mr. Cathy. None of that will affect my ability to enjoy delicious chicken. Just like Disneyland’s corporate views don’t affect my ability to have a wonderful time every time I visit (although the prices sure do. have I mentioned how angry I am about that price hike?)

What makes me sad is that 18 years ago I lived in a world where I didn’t think twice about sharing my opinion. I lived in a country that taught me I had freedom of speech. Even at the young age of 8 I knew that I had a right to my beliefs and to share them with others. Now, I’m actually afraid to share some of my opinions. Afraid that I’ll loose friends, afraid I’ll be labeled as hateful, close minded and stupid. Afraid that people will right me off as “one of those crazy Christians” without really listening to what I have to say. Afraid that I, like Dan Cathy, will be shunned simply for sharing a belief. Afraid that my entire humanity will be judged by one belief that I have instead of by my complete human expression.

Notice in this entire post I haven’t told you what MY stance on homosexuality it is.

And that my friends, is a real tragedy.

Donating Blood is Awesome


we both got neon green bandages without knowing the other one was getting the same color. we are just that intune with each other and awesome.

Joe and I donated blood for the first time today. Our church, Crossline, brought onto LifeStream donation busses on¬†campus and for every person that donated, $20 went to our Haiti Missions Ministry. Now, my whole life I’ve been squeamish about donating blood. Its not the blood that bothers me, or the needles. Its the veins. Veins freak me out. Remember my phobia of tree roots? Its the same thing. Spidery, veiny rooty things really really freak me out. But,¬†Joe and I love the fact that our church has an ongoing relationships with ministries in Haiti and¬†we try to do what¬†we can to support that ministry. Since we didn’t have $40 to contribute, but we did have 2 pints of blood, it was off to the donation bus.

The experience was not nearly as bad as I imagined it. It was a very long process (which was partially our fault because we didn’t make an appointment) but the actual act of giving blood wasn’t bad at all.¬† One of my biggest fears was that it would be hard for them to find a vein and that they would have to poke me multiple times. But, the¬†tech/nurse found the vein immidiately and¬†only had to poke me once.

Myother fear¬†had to do with the blood pressure cuff. I once had to take¬†3 hour polygraph test and the blood pressure cuff was so tight it turned my arm purple and I almost failed the test because¬†I was freaking out over¬†my purple¬†arm, to which the test administrator said “I’ve been giving this test for 40 years and no one’s arm has fallen off yet so stop whining.” Ever since then I’ve been a little hesitant about situations that require prolonged¬†contact with a¬†blood pressure cuff.¬†However, the cuff was only tight for a minute while she inserted the needle and then it was fine.¬†Possible crisis averted.

Yet another fear of mine (are you starting to realize why I had never done this before?) was that there would be nothing to distract¬†me and I would just be sitting there for ten minutes thinking about veins and would end up crying or literally pulling all my hair out. But, the staff was super friendly and talkative. I asked where the blood went and they told me that it went to hospitals in Southern California and Arizona.¬†I really liked the fact that the blood would stay local. I mean, it doesn’t really matter where it goes because its going to help someone¬†no matter what, but I’m big¬†on people helping local communities and it was nice to know that my blood was going to¬†help people in my general vicinity. I also asked how long the blood could last, which led the tech/nurse to give me¬†a bunch of interesting facts about blood and donations.¬†

Did you know…

  • Whole blood can last about 40 days, however¬†there is such a shortage of blood donations that blood is always used before that 40 day mark.
  • Overall there is only about a 3 day supply of blood in America. If a¬†national disaster happens, we’re screwed.
  • Only 10% of the population considers donating blood, and then only 5% actually donate. But, if we could raise that by just 1% we would have¬†enough blood to go around in case of a disaster.¬†
  • Most people that donate blood have either received blood, have known someone who received blood, or they were taught about the importance of donating blood by their parents. If you have kids, seriously consider teaching them about the importance of blood donation.
  • Alot of blood banks get great participation from high schoolers. For one thing, high schoolers love any excuse to miss class. Plus, peer pressure can work for the good, and in this case a lot of kids who are nervous give into peer pressure and do it anyways.

By the time she was done telling me all these fun facts, the bag was full and I was ready to go. I got some sweet neon green tape, ate a delicious cookie and juice, and was good to go!

Hubs, on the other hand, had a slightly different experience. Before going in he was talking a big game, claiming he could donate twice as much as me because he was twice as big. And I encouraged him, telling him he could totally double fist it. Well the poor guy almost passed out. He sat up and immediately had to lie back down again. Then the nurses kept him a litte longer than normal (normal is 15 min) because he was so pale! Seriously, he looked sick. And while he was able to walk to the car, he definitely wasn’t able to drive it. But we got some lunch at Bruxie, then went home and watched a movie, and after that he was fine. The nurses¬†told him that next time he needed to drink more water before hand and that would probably help. Who would have thought that blood donation would be the thing to bring down my big strong husband?

So there you have it. I would encourage EVERYONE who is eligble to go donate blood. If you live in the Riverside or San Bernadino area, I suggest going to a LifeStream donation site. They are a great organization and the money they get for blood goes back into the community. If you live in Orange County, you¬† can donate directly to a hospital such as Hoag, St. Joseph’s or CHOC. And of course,¬†the Red Cross has donation sites pretty much everywhere. If the thought of donating blood freaks you out, then¬†let me know and I’ll go with you. I’m able to donate again¬†in August ūüôā